Should I file a standard character mark or a stylized mark?


Trademark applications may cover words on their own, words written in a stylized font and configuration, stylized words and graphics, graphics on their own, or even the three-dimensional shape of a product or product packaging.

Standard Character Mark

Standard character marks cover a word or words without regard to the way the word is written. It covers the literal element of the mark in any configuration, font, or color, capitalized or not. However, standard character mark holders may not write the mark in a way that causes confusion with the stylized writing of another’s mark.

Richards Patent Law typically advises its clients to pursue standard character word marks for their names as a first priority in trademark protection, because standard character marks confer the broadest protection and will cover the name no matter how the style of writing the name evolves.

Stylized Marks

Stylized marks are mark applications that are not for standard characters. Stylized marks may include words, graphics, and renderings of three-dimensional objects.

Stylized word marks

Stylized word marks include words that are written in a particular font, configuration, and/or color. These types of marks usually correspond to company logos. Stylized word marks can provide some measure of protection for the underlying literal content of the mark, but they will not continue to provide the protection of registration for the underlying word marks if the stylized way of writing the mark changes.

Stylized graphic marks

Stylized graphic marks provide for the registration of symbols or other illustrations that function as a mark.

Combination stylized marks

Stylized word and graphic marks may be combined in word and graphic trademarks. These marks must show the words and illustration in a configuration that is consistent with how the mark is used. For instance, a company’s logo may include two words separated by an illustration between the words. The combined stylized logo mark will give the company protection for that configuration, but it will not carry over to instances where the illustration followed the name of the company or where the company name appeared below the illustration, etc.

RPL advises clients to purse word and graphic marks separately so that each may be used without accompanying the other.

Three-dimensional marks

Under some circumstances, companies may apply to register three-dimensional objects that have source designating significance, meaning they tell consumers the source of the goods. These types of registrations are reserved for three-dimensional indicators that have been in use for an extended period of time and have been marketed heavily in connection with the source of the goods.

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